TWENTY-two persons coming from Wuhan, the hotspot of the novel CoronaVirus are being monitored by Zimbabwe’s Health Ministry for signs and symptoms of the rare respiratory tract infection, HealthTimes has learnt.
By Kudakwashe Pembere
In an interview on the sidelines of a combined interagency coordination committee on health and the national taskforce on epidemic prone diseases meeting on Friday Health Ministry director of epidemiology and disease control Dr Portia Manangazira said these people arrived at the Robert Mugabe International Airport yesterday.
“We have begun the monitoring of these people. Our team collected these people’s particulars such as their areas of visit, their temperatures, the duration of stay in Zimbabwe, and other details for surveillance,” she said.
Dr Manangazira said the people are currently being monitored for this yet to be declared public health pandemic of international concern.
“So now in terms of the national response strategies. We want to strengthen as I said, for us its really activating the national multisectoral taskforce to address sort of a potentially pandemic severe acute respiratory infection. So we should strengthen the joint control mechanism for multiple sectors and its very critical because this is something we perceive to be coming from beyond our borders and not already inherent within us,” she said.
She said they have to make sure that with whoever is coming in from Wuhan is monitored for early detection of infection so they know what to do.
“So we have to alert the multiple sectors in terms of our border authorities that is the ZIMRA, immigration, our own port health colleagues, ministry of agriculture is fortunately present at the borders as well as the response mechanisms that is largely represented in this room. Joint prevention and control of pneumonia outbreaks caused by the novel coronavirus,” said Dr Managazira.
World Health Organisation Zimbabwe Disease Prevention and Control Officer Dr Anderson Chimosoro said WHO does not recommend restriction on travels or trade for people infected with novel coronavirus.
At this stage there are no indications that there should be restrictions. It is prudent to advise our population or health workers on the need to reduce the general risk of acute respiratory infections by following some of these measures which include avoiding close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections, frequent handwashing especially after in contact with the people or their environment.
“Avoiding unprotected contact with farm or wild animals. Many of us are farmers so we need to be careful with our animals,” he said.
The country’s points of entry are on full throttle using World Health Organization’s case detection guidelines for surveillance of this respiratory virus.
A source who requested anonymity said they had challenges such as language barriers.
The other challenges witnessed are that at Robert Mugabe International Airport, there few functional infrared thermometers to check for fever. At some points of entry there were few isolation areas with enough beds.
“The other challenge we have is that we are not sure which masks to have. It seems like we have the N-95 masks. The other thing is that of isolation areas. At Robert Mugabe Airport we don’t have a specific isolation area. In the past we have had discussions. We have a cordoned off area for inadmissibles and the area manager had said that could use that in the event there is a public health emergency.
“So now basing on the fact that it’s not the case, it is a bit difficult to be allowed to use the facility. As well in that place there are no beds, no furniture. It’s just a room for inadmissibles. But for Victoria Falls fortunately they have designated an isolation facility. Bulawayo’s Joshua Nkomo Airport has a temporary place about 500 metres from the terminal,” said thesource.
The incubation time for the virus is unknown but social media reports suggest about 14 days for the symptoms to start manifesting.